Driving on the E11 between Abu Dhabi and Dubai has never been a fun experience. Aside from the monotony of the journey, generally poor driving conditions and a severe lack of places to eat. The thought of travelling between the UAE’s two largest cities is enough to strike fear into even the most seasoned of drivers.
To make the journey that little bit easier, Meraas Holdings have recently launched ‘Last Exit.’ A unique 1950s inspired food truck concept that resembles an American rest stop, similar to something you would expect to find alongside Route 66.
Situated after interchange 11 (heading Dubai bound), just after the border line of two Emirates and very close to the soon-to-open Dubai Parks and Resorts. This truck stop is easy to locate thanks to a collection of coloured flags that clearly mark the entrance. Pulling off the busy highway, the desert scenery is brought to life with colourful road signs and a collection of Volkswagen vans and Beetle’s. Stacked on top of one another in an instantly Instagrammable image.
Providing a slice of Americana to residents and tourists alike, Last Exit is home to a number of gourmet food trucks which can be accessed via drive-through or on foot. Each truck is marked by a coloured lane, just pick your cuisine and follow the colour until you arrive at the drive-through window – it’s as simple as that. For those looking to peruse the options first, it’s much better to park up and explore on foot. Due to the frustrating one way system that has been implemented within the park.
Last Exit is a kitsch and fun environment that feels part theme park and part food festival in it’s presentation. The trailer park is decked out with imitation gas stations, traffic lights and all manner of road signs in an area spanning 1,500 square metres.
Part of the fun is soaking up the atmosphere and each of the metal airstream trucks have been fully customised in unique designs as a way of enticing patrons to part with their hard earned cash. We especially liked the sombrero wearing ‘Poco Loco’ and the antennae of ‘Urban Seafood’s gigantic lobster. With more than twelve trucks currently in residence (with additional outlets coming soon), diners have more than enough options to choose from:
Big Smoke Burger: Offers fresh-never-frozen Angus Canadian beef, minced in-house and hand-crafted. With French fries, hand-spun milkshakes and exclusive cane-sugar sodas. This is one for all the burger lovers
Burger Pit: The busiest truck during our Eid visit. This concept combines old fashioned values with Dubai’s ever-growing demand for good food. Classic beef burgers, crispy fried buttermilk chicken and hot dogs form the menu of this brands first outlet in the UAE.
Caffe Di Roma: One of the largest leading coffee enterprise in the world. Owned by Lavazza (who operate in more than 80 countries worldwide) the leading coffee roaster in Italy. This is the perfect spot for a caffeine fix, especially if on a late night airport run.
Clinton Street Baking Company: A New York import. Clinton’s already has reputation for providing ‘the best pancakes in Dubai’ at their Burj Views location. Aside from pancakes, customers can pick from chicken and waffles, sandwiches, short rib sliders and all-day-breakfasts.
Operation:Falafel: A 21st century take on casual Arabic Street food . Enjoy signature falafel, hummus, fattoush and shawarma roasted to perfection in a selection of manaeesh.
Poco Loco: Providing Latin American inspired dishes and drinks. Expect quesadillas, grilled corn and a selection of tacos, served ready to eat in their holders. For those with a sweet tooth don’t miss the churros.
Starbucks: A brand that needs absolutely no introduction for bringing speciality coffee to the masses. Starbucks baristas are committed to always serve you the best coffee possible.
The Brass: A homegrown coffee and community concept that launched at CityWalk earlier this summer. A cafe that blends Eastern and Western styles and offers some really unique coffee flavours.
The Hot Dog Stand: Transforming hot dogs into gourmet cuisine is the objective here. With Angus beef or chicken options available, the choice of toppings are endless and all dogs are served with skin-on fries and slaw.
Urban Seafood: Having travelled down the road from their Ibn Battuta location, this seafood concept focuses on being healthy and fresh. Fresh lobsters, mussels, shrimps, calamari and more are available.
Feeling spoilt for choice, team Out and About split up to cover more ground and returned with a selection of goodies. The little ones headed straight for ‘Sugar Rush’ to get their fix of soft serve ice cream (10 AED) from a blue truck specialising in Candy Floss and Milkshakes.
The adults opted for the ‘Monster Dog’ from The Hot Dog Stand and couldn’t believe how fully loaded it was. With tomatoes, green onions, sweet beetroot and crisp potato shards all vying for attention – this was hands down one of the best hotdogs we have had in the UAE. Unfortunately the fries were a little undercooked and very underwhelming.
Clinton Street Bakery’s chocolate pancakes really lived up to their reputation. Light and fluffy with copious amounts of chocolate oozing from the interior. We loved these pancakes and now want to go back and sample the waffles.
Coffee from The Brass was also exceptional. A honey lavender latte may sound unusual but the layers of sweet honey, coffee and a hint of flowery lavender made for a brilliant combination. Prices throughout the park are as expected with most meals costing around forty dirhams.
Aside from the gourmet food trucks. Last Exit boasts a quirky dining room with model airplanes hanging from the ceiling and vintage engine parts adorning the walls. The space is atmospheric and makes a welcome change from eating in your car or outside in the blistering desert heat. When the weather does cool down, there are children’s playgrounds which will be great for burning off some energy on long car journeys.
Last Exit seemingly has everything covered when it comes to convineice, with an ATM, small grocery shop, baby change facility and some of the most unique toilets we have ever witnessed, the emphasis is on fun.
Now back to those toilets… The basins are made from car tyres with the water poured from a gas nozzle, that is activated by stepping on a floor mounted pedal (like driving a car). The urinals are made from buckets and labelled with hazard warning signs – we couldn’t resist taking a photo!
Last Exit is a bold and atomospheric addition to the UAE dining scene but the concept does need tweaking. Initially, customers aren’t given enough time to decide on where they want to eat before having to pick a lane. With only one small signboard and plenty of cars attempting to u-turn within a confined and crowded one-way network. The infrastructure just doesn’t work. We suggest visitors do their research in advance or just turn up and head straight to the car park (the blue lane) and continue the journey on foot.
Being Eid during our visit, the service seemed particularly slow and it would seem that the drive-through trucks were really struggling with supply and demand. Leaving queues of cars backing up onto the highway. It has been said that Last Exit’s drivers are estimated to average 10,000 vehicles per hour or 1.68 million per week – it’s that popular!
Most frustrating of all is if you’re travelling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. The extra kilometres added to your journey may be a deterrent. Leaving Last Exit drivers must travel all the way back into Jebel Ali, before you can cross the Sheikh Zayed Road to head Abu Dhabi bound again.
It works so much better as a stop-over on the way to Dubai from the capital, than vice-versa.
Last Exit is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. With each food truck changing their menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner service.
We personally loved Last Exit – it’s fun, colourful, perfect for children and something you won’t find elsewhere in the Emirates.
Never will the journey to Dubai have to be boring again!
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.